Are Your Kids Protected?

May 06, 2018

Are Your Kids Protected? Minor bumps, bruises and scrapes are expected when kids engage in sports activities, however experts have seen an increase in the amount and severity of injuries in school-age kids over the past decade. In fact, according to researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, children between the ages of five and 17 suffer 4.3 million sports and recreational activity related injuries each year. They further indicated there was a whopping 400 percent increase in severe knee injuries over the past 10 years!

The American Academy of Pediatrics on youth sports injuries indicates that most of the injuries occur in sports such as football, basketball, soccer, rugby, and hockey because of the jumping, sprinting, pivoting, and high degree of contact involved. “Today's kids are playing sports earlier and also concentrating on a single sport in some cases,” said Joel Brenner, M.D., chairman of the academy’s Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. “This puts added stress on immature bones, joints, and muscles. Plus, the need to surgically repair some of these injuries may lead to arthritis in the future and could disturb a child's growth.” 

Pediatric sports medicine experts and orthopedic surgeons at Johns Hopkins University offer these tips for preventing sports related injuries in kids.  

Tips to Prevent Sports Injuries in Kids

  • Set Realistic Goals – Have your young athlete set obtainable goals they would like to achieve and make a plan to gradually work to improve until they reach it. Overworking and straining the body does nothing to help accomplish goals to improve skills in a sport. Regular practice over an extended period of time is the smart and safe way to improve and obtain desired sports skills.
  • See A Doctor for a Sports Physical – Before beginning any new sports program, youth sports players should see a doctor for a sports physical to insure they are fit to play with no limitations. This is a great time to discuss any concerns and check up on any prior injuries that may be an issue. Seeing a doctor is a good choice because they can also teach the use of proper techniques required for sports to avoid injuries in the future.
  • Warm Up Before Play – Stretching should be the first thing you do before starting a sport. Heated muscles are less likely to become sprained, so it is crucial to warm up before playing.  A mix of static and dynamic warm ups are suggested. Toe touches and stretches that require you to hold the position are examples of static techniques, while jumping jacks and stretches where the body is continuously moving are dynamic techniques.  
  • Talk with Young Athletes – Kids need to understand the importance of discussing any pain or discomfort experienced during sports play. Many children these days are so competitive that they will just tough it out and play while they are in pain, which can lead to a more serious injury. Activities need to be adjusted if the body is showing signs of too much pain or stress.  A mild general muscle ache is normal but pain in joints or severe pain that lingers is not.
  • Be Patient – Learning a new sport and getting in shape does not happen overnight. The body needs adequate time and a gradual increase in training/playing levels to adjust to the new stresses on muscles, bones and joints. Increase duration gradually and allow plenty of recovery time between games/practices.  
  • Cross-train for Less Injuries – Kids who play a variety of sports benefit from the change in routine because it helps insure the same muscles are not overused, which may lead to serious issues. Choose sports that utilize different parts of the body to avoid the pattern of stress repeatedly being put on the same joints and muscles.
  • Water! Water! Water! – Staying hydrated during sports games and practices is crucial for youth athletes. Kids should drink plenty of water before, during and after play, especially in the summer with the increased heat and humidity. Be aware of the signs of a heat-related illness which include nausea, fatigue, confusion and even fainting.
  • Always Wear the Proper Protective Equipment – The importance of the proper and well fitted protective equipment cannot be stressed enough in youth sports. Be sure to wear helmets, pads and shoes at all times to prevent injuries. Equipment should be fitted before practice for the sport season starts to insure kids have a properly fitted outfit to protect them.

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